[PHOTO AT LEFT (COURTESY OF PHILSTAR) President Arroyo talks with Chairman Romulo Neri of the Commission on Higher Education during a meeting of education stakeholders at Malacañang yesterday. With them are Science Secretary Mina Alabastro and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus. - Photo By WILLY PEREZ]

MANILA, DECEMBER 27, 2007 (STAR) Stressing that “knowledge is the greatest creator of wealth,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met today for the fourth time the stakeholders in the education sector to set up the mechanisms needed to further improve the country’s educational system.

Today’s meeting was the fourth of a series of meetings with the education sector this month. The first and third meetings were held also in Manila while the second meeting was in Cebu City last Dec. 13.

“We are holding a series of meetings to feel how the stakeholders in the education sector are thinking in improving our education system,” the President said as she was greeted by members of the Coordinating Council of Private Education Associations (COCOPEA), Commission on Higher Education Chairman Romulo Neri and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

Neri said the President has time and again stressed the importance of quality education in uplifting the lives of the poor and in improving the economy and that she wanted to leave a legacy of better education to the younger generation.

Thus, Lapus said there is a proposal that the government’s pre-school program must include children enrolled in Day Care centers.

“We have to start them young,” he said.

He said the program targets to cover 1.8 million private and public school pupils nationwide, including the 28,000 pupils in public schools without pre-school.

Another issue to be discussed during the meeting, Lapus said, is the retraining of teachers, specifically in English, in a move to further improve the English proficiency of students.

Lapus said a lot has yet to be done in the retraining of teachers and one solution he would suggest is rigid college curriculum and training to spare government from spending a large sum in retraining of teachers.

He cited that about 52 percent of teachers in Mathematics and Science need retraining.

The President has listed education as one of her top priorities at the start of her fresh six-year term.

“Our administration has spent more on human capital formation than any other administration in the past,” the President has said, adding that “Education is the foundation of economic prosperity and individual liberty, justice and self-worth.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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